Business

New Offshore Fish Farm Being Built

July 23, 2014, 3:19 PM HST
* Updated July 24, 6:06 PM
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UPDATE: The article has been changed from the original to reflect a $75 billion market for open fish-farming equipment, and that the Oceansphere is not tethered to a boat while in operation.

Hawaii Oceanic Technology Inc. expects to begin construction of its first Oceansphere, a deep-water open ocean fish farm off the North Kohala coast of Hawaii Island, by the end of this year, said a company release.

The company has a 35-year state lease on 247 ocean acres, where yellowfin and bigeye tuna, or ahi, will be grown initially to demonstrate the system, said co-founder and CEO Bill Spencer. Hawaii is the only state that allows such offshore leases for mariculture, he said.

The company expects to start fish-farming operations some time in 2015.

Spencer said the company’s biology partner successfully spawned yellowfin tuna at its research hatchery last year. “Though additional work needs to be done, officials are confident that success with egg-to-plate tuna rearing is at hand,” said the release.

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HOT Inc.’s mariculture project is the second in West Hawaii. Blue Ocean Mariculture Inc. has applied to the state to expand it operations off the Kona coast.

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HOT Inc., is banking on a boom in global demand for open fish-farming equipment, anticipated to be a $75 billion market in 2020. The market for farmed seafood, meanwhile, is expected to surpass $200 billion in 2020, said the company’s release.

“Our primary goal is technology,” Spencer said, and the Oceansphere allows the company to demonstrate its patented technologies. The Oceanshpere will provide fish farming companies the ability to grow seafood sustainably and naturally in deep-ocean settings where fish benefit from lower parasitic levels, better food conversion ratios and faster growth, Spencer said.

The Oceansphere is not tethered to the ocean floor, so it is mobile, minded by a tendership and designed to operate “far from the ocean shore,” said the release. Spencer said the first Oceansphere will operate 2.6 miles off Malae Point.

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“The deep ocean is the only place left to produce enough seafood naturally to feed the world efficiently, economically and with minimal environmental impact,” Spencer said. Visit the Web site here.

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